The Shire Valley Transformation Project engineer Martin Chizalema has rated progress at the site at 36 percent.
He said this on Thursday in Chikwawa during a media briefing.
However, Chizalema said the project would have been at 48 percent had Covid-19 not affected its progress.
He said: “We would like the contractor to make up for the lost time so that we should be closer to the scheduled deadline of the first phase in October 2022.
“Currently, out of six kilometres [km] of the irrigation canal, we have excavated 3.7km. At the intake, we are finishing the foundation and soon we will start constructing it.”
The Shire Valley Transformation Project is government’s flagship irrigation programme run by the Ministry of Agriculture in Chikwawa and Nsanje districts to boost agricultural production both for local consumption and export.
It started in 2018. When completed, water will be diverted from the Shire River by gravity that will enable farmers to grow crops three times a year.